Blair Brooks grew up a Hawkeye. The University of Iowa surrounded him.
His grandfather, the late Bob Brooks, is a member of the football program’s media wall of fame following a distinguished broadcasting career. His father, Rob Brooks, has served as the Hawkeye Radio Network football sideline reporter since 2004 and also calls women’s basketball games.
Despite those ties, the recruiting process has Blair Brooks relaxing his allegiances. Objectivity is a must during an important life decision.
Western Illinois and South Dakota have offered Brooks a scholarship. Iowa extended a preferred walk-on opportunity this summer, and Iowa State has continued to show strong interest.
Wait. The Cyclones? Bob Brooks’ grandson would line up in cardinal and gold?
“I get that question a lot,” Blair says with a chuckle. “Could you go to Iowa State? My answer is yes. If they offer me the best position for me to develop as a player, I would definitely go to Iowa State. As of now, I’m just keeping my options open.”
Brooks (6-3, 185) is focused on Western Illinois, South Dakota, Iowa and Iowa State, in no particular order. He also holds a Hawkeye track scholarship offer.
The Marion (IA) High receiver won the state’s Class 3A high jump (6-6.75) and long jump (22-7.25) while finishing third in the 110 hurdles (14.99) in May’s less than ideal conditions. Through seven football game this fall, he’s caught 32 passes for 464 yards and nine touchdowns.
“I want to play football (in college). I can’t see myself not playing football,” he said. “I want to see if I can do both. Western Illinois and South Dakota said I can do both. (Iowa track) coach (Joey) Woody said I could do track if I wanted to play football at Iowa. That’s something I would have to discuss with the Iowa football coaches.”
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Brooks visited the Hawkeyes again Saturday for their 45-16 homecoming win against Illinois. He’s scheduled to be back on campus later this week during the team’s bye.
“I’ve been getting nothing but positive feedback from coach (Reese) Morgan, coach (Kirk) Ferentz and coach (Kelton) Copeland. Coach Morgan has been there for me since my sophomore year when he first started recruiting me. They’ve been straight up and honest with me. They tell me positive things and talk about how I could develop as a player,” Brooks said.
Iowa offered Brooks a preferred walk-on opportunity in June. He was told that could turn into a scholarship based on evaluation of his senior season and how things transpire with other recruiting targets. The Cyclones have not offered a preferred walk-on chance.
“Iowa State just told me to play my season and they would talk to me after my season was completed,” he said.
Practicing patience with the process hasn’t always been easy for Brooks. He’s learned to relax and let it unfold however it will.
“It was kind of frustrating at first but I’m used to it now. I talk to the Iowa and Iowa State coaches almost every day. They send me mail. They’re always asking how my games went and how I’m doing as a person. It makes it a lot easier when you know you’re still connecting with them and they’re showing consistent interest in you,” he said.
Brooks believes in his ability but it’s not easy overcoming stereotypes. Iowa is known more for producing linemen and linebackers that it is receivers.
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Perhaps Brooks can break through the way Nick Easley from Newton has after walking on at Iowa before this season. He leads the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns. Brooks boasts high-end athleticism, reporting times of 4.48 in the 40 and 49.0 in the 400.
“What I can do on the track is what coach Morgan loves about me. They love the multi-sport athletes. I feel like track does translate onto the field. The long jump shows explosiveness off the ball,” he said.
Time will tell if that skill set finds its way onto the field at Kinnick Stadium. It would be neat for Brooks to play where his grandfather and father have worked for many years, but it’s not a necessity.
“I don’t really have a dream school,” Brooks said. “During my freshman year, I started just watching more offensive philosophies than teams. I was a Hawkeye fan growing up but I’ve tried to stay as neutral as possible and find the place where I can best develop as a person and as a player. That’s more of my approach now than looking at it from a dream-school standpoint.”